Red Pocket Review

Last updated 6/14/2020

Summary

Red Pocket is a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) that offers plans on each of the Big Four networks (AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon). Red Pocket’s services on AT&T’s network and Verizon’s network are unusually well-priced. Customers who are willing to purchase 360 days of service upfront can get even better prices on service purchased through Red Pocket’s eBay store.

I initially trialed Red Pocket’s service that runs over Verizon’s network. I had trouble activating my phone and then had a negative experience communicating with customer support. Since trialing the service, I’ve learned that many other people have had problems with Red Pocket’s service over Verizon.

I don’t currently recommend Red Pocket. That said, I am trialing Red Pocket service over AT&T’s network to see if I have a better experience. Despite my negativity, Red Pocket may still be worth trialing if you want a low price for service over AT&T or Verizon’s network, and you’re willing to gamble on the possibility of a bad experience. If service over T-Mobile’s network is acceptable to you, I strongly recommend Mint Mobile as an alternative.


Visit Red Pocket’s Website


My experience

Purchasing service

In April of 2019, I went to Red Pocket’s website, navigated to the monthly plans page, and saw the following options:

The plans with relatively small allotments of data, texts, and minutes, have identical prices regardless of the network used. For plans with large allotments, the CDMA service (service over Verizon’s network) offers less data at any given price point than service over other networks.

I selected the $15 plan with Red Pocket’s CDMA service. I ended up paying $0.25 in tax beyond the $15 base price.[1] I didn’t have to pay any extra for the SIM card or shipping.

Activating service

Several days later, I received my SIM card and some introductory materials from Red Pocket:

The SIM card came in the standard 3-in-1 style.[2] I inserted the SIM card into my Motorola G6 Play and went to RedPocket.com/Start to activate service. On that page, I entered the ICCID that came along with my SIM card. Next, I was prompted to enter my device’s IMEI. I was surprised that Red Pocket didn’t conspicuously explain how a customer could find his or her IMEI. While that wasn’t a problem for me, I could see this step confusing some customers. Instructions for finding an IMEI could be pulled up by clicking “Need help?” on the activation page then clicking another item labeled: “If you are using a CDMA phone or device.” I don’t think requiring those two clicks to view instructions was a good design choice. Many people who don’t know what an IMEI is will also not know whether they have a CDMA device.

After entering my IMEI, I confirmed some personal information (e.g., my address) and finished the activation. This was when problems started.

Activation problems

After completing the online activation process, I was able to send texts. I didn’t have data service yet, so I adjusted my phone’s settings in an unsuccessful attempt to make the data service work. Red Pocket’s website suggested I should place a test call after the online activation, so I eventually did that. When placing a call, I didn’t directly connect with the recipient. Instead, I heard some activation-related messages. I was told to press “1” if I wanted my messaging language to be set to English and then told in Spanish to press “2” if I wanted the messaging language set to Spanish. When I pressed “1”, I was told I had entered an invalid input. After multiple calls and several attempts at pressing “1”, I decided to try and go through the activation in Spanish by pressing “2”. I still got the invalid input message.

Calling support

Since I was struggling, I called the customer service line. I connected immediately with a Red Pocket support agent without being put on hold. To get started, I had to share a bit of information to verify my identity. One item I had to share was the last four digits on my SIM card. I thought that was a bit odd and inconvenient.

The Red Pocket agent said it sounded like my phone was not actually unlocked. I insisted that my phone was unlocked. I explained that I’d bought the phone unlocked from a third-party seller and had previously used it on multiple networks with several different carriers. The support agent was not convinced. He confirmed that my service appeared to be activated then tried resetting the service. The reset did not solve my problems. Every few minutes, the agent reiterated that he thought my phone was not unlocked. While I told him multiple times that the phone was not purchased from Verizon or branded with Verizon’s logo, the agent repeatedly told me I should call Verizon to confirm the phone was unlocked.

After some time, the conversation became confusing. From my perspective, the agent was telling me that my phone was probably not working because it was locked and that Red Pocket could only guarantee good service on Verizon’s network if I initially purchased the device from Verizon (which I hadn’t). After about 20 minutes, the agent and I agreed that we should end the call so I could try the SIM card in another device.

Dealing with the activation issue

I switched the SIM card into another device (this device was unlocked & Verizon-branded). I did not immediately have data service, so I went ahead and made a test call. I was promoted with the same information about setting my messaging language. This time, when I pressed “1”, everything worked as expected. After completing the call, my service was fully active. I switched the SIM card back into my original phone, a Motorola G6 Play, and everything worked fine.

Reflections

I’m baffled by the “invalid input” issue. The G6 and G6 Play are common phones. I don’t think the issue I experienced should have been rare or obscure if it was device-related. I’m also not sure why an additional step was necessary after the online activation process.

My experience with Red Pocket was the most frustrating I’ve had while activating service with an MVNO. I don’t think most Red Pocket subscribers experience the issue I had or the sort of unproductive interactions with customer support that I had. That said, issues may not be uncommon with Red Pocket’s Verizon service. Joe Paonessa of BestMVNO.com shares troubles he experienced in part of his review of Red Pocket. Several people commenting on this review have also mentioned problems with Red Pocket’s Verizon’s service.

A comment I found on HowardForums after my Red Pocket trial mentioned a method that might solve the issue for some people. This comes from forum user MWink:

You have to DISABLE VoLTE/HD Voice before making that first call, which asks you to select your language. After you have successfully made that first (activation) call you should go back and re-enable VoLTE/HD Voice. I hope this helps.

Using the service

During my trial of Red Pocket, speeds were all over the place. I did not identify any obvious throttling. Here are a few screenshots from unsystematic speed tests:

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Trying Red Pocket Again

I really wanted to like Red Pocket, and I especially liked the idea of Red Pocket’s ultra-low-cost plan sold through the Red Pocket eBay store. This plan offered 100 minutes, 100 texts, and 500mb of data each month for only $60 per year. I decided to purchase this plan and give Red Pocket another chance. Given my bad experience with the Red Pocket service over Verizon, I selected service over AT&T’s network. The SIM card shipped for free, and I had an eBay coupon that brought the total price down to just $54 for a year of service.

Activating the AT&T-based service was much less problematic. I’m still trialing the service, so I plan to update this review once I’ve used it a bit longer.

Red Pocket’s eBay store deals

Red Pocket has an eBay store. At the moment, Red Pocket sells 360-day service options through its eBay store that are not available for purchase via the Red Pocket website. Below, you can find some of the notable options that were available as of 4/30/2019. Except where noted otherwise, each option was available on any of the Big Four networks and included free shipping. The quantities of texts, minutes, and data indicate monthly allotments.

360 days of service:

  • $60 – 100 minutes, 100 texts, 500MB of data
  • $99 – 500 minutes, 500 texts, 500MB of data
  • $169 – 1000 minutes, unlimited texts, 1GB of data
  • $205 – unlimited minutes, unlimited texts, 1GB of data
  • $229 – unlimited minutes, unlimited texts, 2GB of data
  • $240 – unlimited minutes, unlimited texts, 5GB of LTE data, additional data at reduced speeds (no option for Verizon’s network)
  • $399 – unlimited minutes, unlimited texts, 10GB of LTE data, additional data at reduced speeds (no option for Verizon’s network)

Alternatives to Red Pocket

If you’re looking for an alternative to Red Pocket, consider checking out my list of recommended budget-friendly carriers. It includes carriers operating over each of the major U.S. networks


Visit Red Pocket’s Website


Footnotes

  1. Breakdown:

    • Federal universal service fund: $0.22
    • Federal cost recovery charge: $0.03
  2. The 3-in-1 structure allows the SIM card to be adjusted to the size a device requires (standard, micro, or nano).

29 thoughts to “Red Pocket Review”

  1. I have experienced it both ways. Several times I have run into various problems trying to activate, however, I have also activated in minutes too.

    1. You think Red Pocket Mobile is great check out Tello Mobile they operate on the Verizon network. For starters Unlimited Talk and Text and 1GB of Data for$10. Month. Or Mint Mobile Unlimited Talk and Text and 3GB Data per Month, if you buy a year it’s $180. for the whole Year.

  2. I had the exact same issue activating a line on a Moto G6 Play purchased from Amazon. Support chat was able to do something on their end to get me past the voicemail set-up. In the past I had activated a line with a Verizon branded Moto G4 Play on Red Pocket before with no trouble. I wonder if this is an issue with the Moto G6 Play or with all non-Verizon branded phones.

    1. My G6 Play also came from Amazon. I suppose I hope it’s a device-specific issue rather than something that occurs with all phones that aren’t Verizon branded.

      1. I had very similar issues with a Moto x4. I tried multiple times, and could not get the “press1” to work. The first CS rep had me reset the network settings, reboot ,remove SIM, reboot, reset, reboot, remove SIM……..until they hung up on me. Then, later in the day, I tried online chat….and this CS rep tells me that they have a known issue with Motorola and LG phones. I put my sim in a Samsung device, made a test call, pressed “1” and we were done. Moved the sim, and then could not get voicemail setup. Had to call, and they had to reset something on their end.

  3. I had 4 days of trying to make the red pocket CDMA v work on my PIXEL XL 3 after using it reliably on iphone resulted in my request for and granted a partial refund

  4. They have been charging my credit card for 7 months automatically even though i have called 8 times to stop it. They keep telling me its stopped and then charge it again. Its been a nightmare and its not even my phone! I paid my daughters bill one time and they kept my card info!,, Customer service is terrible trying to get this resolved!,,

    1. Sorry for the off topic but I just wanted to say that
      Bank of America’s ShopSafe would have saved you because you could have created a one-time use limited credit card on their website.

  5. I did not experience any of the problems you mentioned. I have had Red Pocket for two years now and I have a dual SIM phone with both the AT&T and the T-Mobile SIM in it. The only thing I have found is that I occasionally have problems with the T-Mobile SIM in that it will not provide data. I attribute this to T-Mobile’s tower maintenance in my area.

  6. The chat went from 5 to 9 minutes, then went to 13 minutes due to inactivity on their part.
    I shifted from minty cause minty raised my rates by $10. a month because I failed to renew the day before. Since it did not allow a phone or computer payment I guess Imma heading to Walmart or Best Buy cause red asked for access to my credit card. Yikes!

  7. I activated with a Motorola g7play on cdmav with a one month plan and it took no time at all to get fully started. I then ported my number from Mint on a 360 day plan on cdmav and it took 53 minutes with customer service to get it working. Customer service was very helpful. My problem was that when I tried to make a call it would go to a Verizon recorded announcement saying I had no credit available. I have had no problems with the service since then.

  8. Red Pocket has been a disaster for me. I bought two annual plans on eBay for my phones after Red Pocket assured me that my phones were compatible with their CDMA service. I received the SIMs and attempted to activate, but no go. Red Pocket then told me I would need to activate first with GSMA, then switch to CDMA afterward. I had to pay another month on my current plan while I awaited new SIM cards from Red Pocket. I received the cards and activated on GSMA, and it took hours online in chat to get the service set up and working correctly with the corret amount of prepaid service credited to my account. Next, the service was awful. Telephone calls were a garbled mess with service cutting in and out. When I submitted requests to transfer to CDMA, it became clear that Red Pocket did NOT want to transfer the phones to the CDMA network. Again I have spent hours in chat and emailing with them and they still have not fulfilled the requests. They have continually told me I have not funded the phone plans, even though I have the receipts and the online account reflects full payment for one year. I seriously wish I had not paid for a year in advance. This has definitely NOT been worth the hassle.

    1. You experience is a life lesson for others to try the monthly plans first with ANY carrier when they are available. Sorry you had such a hassle and thanks for sharing.

  9. I haven’t had any problems with RedPocket so far, I just switched to them in July because I needed a Verizon MVNO due to lack of signal in my area from anyone else. I switched to it from Ting, with whom I had nothing but positive experiences. So far, customer support has been great and activating devices has been fine. We activated an unlocked galaxy s9+, a Verizon note 9, and an unlocked oneplus 6t (which I had them switch to CDMA-less so that it worked correctly) with pre-paid SIMs that we bought from their eBay store (17.09/month for each device on Verizons network with unlimited talk/text and 2 gb data each is a steal). I haven’t had any problems with signal strength, throttling, or anything. I am sorry that your experience has been crappy! We have been stoked to have had it be so seamless.

  10. My experience was the reverse: I was on Mint for over a year, but their 4G service progressively got worse, which prompted a search for a new service provider. I tried Red Pocket (AT&T sim) and it was consistently faster in my area (California), and have been with them for almost a year now with no regrets.

  11. I’ve had two phones on Red Pocket now for 11 months, I really like their prices and the 360 eBay plan. The service had been very good. My wife’s phone was a project getting it activated, actually over an hour and a half on the phone with tech support. Everything has been seamless since.
    I have had my service disconnected twice, once after 6 months and once again after 11 months. With each problem it seems you have to get the right customer service representative to handle the problem. I’m not sure whether or not I will take a chance on another year?

  12. You have forgotten to do apn setup I had to do that on my first day of using it I realized it wasn’t working so I went to the website and they told me I have to do apn setup you have to Google search red pocket apn setup gillow the instructions and it should work

    1. Hi Azz,

      While missing APN information is sometimes a problem, especially with older devices, that doesn’t seem to have been the problem in my case.

  13. My experience, worst MVNO ever. Used them for both ATT and TMobile service.
    I’ve used several MVNOs. I can’t wait for my term to expire so I can go somewhere else ( so far Mint Sim is the best MVNO Ive had ). One continuing issue is that the voicemail alert is constant, but when I check my vm, there is newessage waiting. I think they do this on purpose to have you use your minutes. If you pay attention to the prompts while in VM, you will notice they are meant to make the call longer than need be. MTC.

  14. I’ve been with Red Pocket for about a year and a half on the Verizon network and we haven’t had any problems with them using our Galaxy phones. I just bought a phone that can use two sim cards at once and I used an ATT sim and a Verizon sim at the same time and Verizon is definitely superior in Southern Utah. Whenever I need help I always pull up the online chat and my issues always get resolved. I go through online chat when I activate a new phone too. They’ve been the best carrier I’ve had and I’ve tried Rok mobile, Straight Talk, TPO and Ting.

  15. First agent I conversed with did suggest the idea of sending me another GSMA SIM card and then revisit activating my port from Verizon to my V20, then put back my initial CDMA SIM to complete the port using the CDMA SIM. But a day or two later I called back and then Danielle simply ported and activated the CDMA SIM on her side. Danielle is the EXPERT! The goddess! Hail, Danielle!*

  16. I am reading this the day after having the same issues but with my Google Pixel 3a XL. The customer service at Red Pocket is a real problem. I called on Saturday and spent two hours with one customer service rep, who, in the end, announced to me, “your phone is not compatible with this sim card.” The sim was a CDMA for Verizon. I found that odd since Verizon was the only carrier that actually sells Pixels. Additionally, my phone was purchased on Amazon and was unlocked. My mother had an issue with Red Pocket and was told the same thing: “your phone is not compatible with this sim.” She called the next day and that customer service person resolved the issue in 5 minutes.

    I followed her lead. I called the next day. My Red Pocket customer service person reviewed my previous interaction, and two minutes later had me turn off “Advanced Calling” in my network settings. I called the number, pressed “1” for English and my service was activated. An easy fix. The problem was I spent two hours the day before on an incredibly frustrating call, which concluded by saying, “oh it’s your fault for getting a sim they won’t work on your phone.” And that customer service person was simply wrong. Very frustrating.

  17. I had great experience with annual red pocket deal works great easy to activate.Bought second plan for my wife she loves it. Now my son who is a lecturer in a university bought the same plan. He likes it too.

  18. After a minor set-up problem on one phone have been using on two Moto E5 plus for a year on ATT network. So far service identical to our experience with ATT via Cricket and just renewed for a second year. Have the 5G ebay plan.

  19. They will give new phone numbers to multiple customers in order to increase revenue. That is weird to me, since I of course discovered it within a month of having the service (the guy who was receiving my friends’ texts and calls finally got ahold of one of my friends). When I tried to call them and figure out what they were up to, I got nowhere. NO customer service, none! It’s cheap for a reason. Avoid this company and go with someone reputable.

  20. I have activated Annual 5GB plans on a Moto G6 (Sept 2019) and iPhone 11 (Feb 2020) on AT&T network with one minor issue encountered in the Activation process. (When the number transfer process asks for “password,” it is asking for the account PIN at the current carrier.)

    Full iPhone support is relatively recent, and appears to be working well but requires recent versions of IOS, and may require newer devices for Hotspot to work. Hotspot works on the iPhone 11. It would not work on an iPhone 7 Plus I used temporarily. (Both at the same revision of iOS & APN settings.)

    I have had problems sending MMS photos from an iPhone 11 on RedPocket AT&T to a Pixel 3a on Verizon, but this appears to have been a temporary issue encountered by AT&T Prepay Customers, too.

    Service appears to be rebranded AT&T Prepay. Many system Texts still are branded AT&T.

    SMS/MMS direct emails are @sms.att.net and @mms.att.net

    Coverage appears to be identical to Cricket along the Colorado Front Range, Foothills, and in CO Ski Areas.

  21. Good article reflecting my experience. Had no trouble activating on T-Mobile (GSMT in Red Pocket parlance). Verizon (CDMAV in Red Pocket lingo), however was a different matter. Very painful. I’ve made the call on both as listed (not necessary on GSM I believe, in spite of their claim it’s very importnat). They need to differentiate — very important to make the first call for CDMA, or maybe only CDMAV? Customer service not helpful either. They seem to have no clue. They should have known there are problems activating on CDMAV, and be able to help. Instead, they claimed my phone isn’t unlocked. Since I had my Red Pocket GSMT card, I tried it and it worked. Coming from AT&T, that meant to me the phone is unlocked. Not according to Red Pocket Customer Service. To them it meant it was GSM unlocked, but not CDMA unlocked. Baloney! How can somebody working in the field make such claims?! If they were trained they should have known all I needed to do is make that call and press 1 (haven’t tried 2). They’ve asked me to call Apple and confirm it’s unlocked (always passing the buck). So I called AT&T, they had no idea there were two types of “unlocked” but confirmed the phone was unlocked. Same thing with Apple. Same with Verizon. I realized I was on my own, all RP CSR offered was to ship a T-Mobile SIM (GSMT). They should have known that if my CDMAV SIM card allows me to only use SMS, it means I had to make that darn call and select 1. I had made a call to a known non-VoIP number before, but I was greeted by a Verizon message and thought there was a problem right there, so I hung up without pressing 1. Big mistake. At some point I’ve made another call, didn’t get the Verizon greeting any longer, so I pressed 1. Bingo! Voice and data started working.

    There is one important detail that I haven’t seen mentioned anywhere. When you activate on GSMT (T-Mobile), your phone will list the carrier as Red Pocket. When activating on CDMAV (Verizon), it will show Verizon. To me, that meant there was a problem. I’ve asked them multiple times, and eventually one of them answered it should show Red Pocket, not Verizon. Not true! Even after service started working following that first voice call, it still shows Verizon as the carrier. I actually prefer that, it’s more honest than saying Red Pocket which is just the middle man.

    The other thing to be careful about that I haven’t seen mentioned is the timing of your switching carriers. Most of them will charge you for the full month of service after you switch, no prorating. For me this was a $105 loss. I was fortunate enough to complete porting quickly (hours), and call AT&T about the unlock issue on the first day of my billing cycle. They had a grace period for a grand total of 1 day, and hence they agreed to prorate my bill limiting my losses to a couple of dollars for the benefit of being listed as their customer for 1 day. Make sure to start porting your number at least a couple of days before the end of your billing cycle, better off one week, just to be sure you don’t run into the next month.

    There might be alleviating solutions to this problem, but I don’t know if they’d work. I was planning on calling AT&T and switch to a cheaper plan for that last unused month. Not sure if it would have worked. But AT&T blissfully lets you sit on an old (more expensive) plan until you notice there are better options out there. They’ve got to pay for the expensive purchases they’ve made recently (DirecTV anyone?). That includes overcharging customers, reducing spending on HW and customer service, and increasing spending on marketing and advertising. You’ve got to love the MBAs that are destroying the American economy!

    Anyway, those are my two cents worth. Red Pocket has outstanding prices compared to what I used to pay, and coupled with free international calling to over 70 countries to differentiate itself from other MVNOs, it’s a great value (assuming the service works). Microsoft Skype charged me $7/month for unlimited international calls (which I considered a good value), while AT&T charged me $3/min of international calling (!!!!) in the age of VoIP. Seriously, AT&T? By comparison, Red Pocket puts them to shame with 500 minutes of international calling plus 500 SMS plus 500 MB for $10/month.

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